By Peter Woolf
Published Jan 2010
‘For almost all my life, I’ve been the person you crossed the street to avoid. I had nothing in my life but that need, that empty space I could only fill with more drugs, with more drink. That was my aim – steal by day, get wasted by night…’
Peter Woolf is fifty-one. He has spent eighteen years of his life behind bars in over thirty different prisons across the country. A heroin addict from the age of fourteen, he was once a notorious career criminal with close links to the London crime underworld. Yet, amazingly, today Peter is clean and has not reoffended since a life-changing meeting in 2002 when he came face to face with one of his victims.
Born in 1957, Peter’s childhood was one of abuse and neglect: everything was solved by violence, and crime was a way of life. The expectation of Peter was that he would rise under the umbrella of the Nashes, one of London’s leading crime families, to be a key player in the criminal fraternity. Given alcohol when still in the pram, and drugs as early as ten years old, education was irrelevant and he was in approved school by the age of twelve.
On his release his life became an endless cycle of drugs, violent crimes to pay for drugs, then prison. For over thirty years he attacked, robbed, deceived and trampled over almost everyone he met. Then one Tuesday afternoon in a glass room at Pentonville prison he was forced to confront all that he had destroyed.
The Damage Done is a searingly honest and gritty portrayal of a man ensconced in a world of violence and depravity who, against the odds, managed to turn his life around.